That's Our Man
Marshon dazzled Friartown for four years...now he's one of the NBA's best rookies.
Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Updated: Saturday, January 28, 2012 13:01
Some of the best players in history competed in the Big East Conference: Patrick Ewing, Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, and Carmelo Anthony, to name a few. But during their college years, none had a season quite like MarShon Brooks '11 did last year, setting the Big East records for most points in a single game and most points in a single season. Now, he's ready to break even more records in the NBA.
At the end of his junior season, few scouts, if any, believed that Brooks would be able to excel as a professional, let alone be drafted in the first round. But during his final season in a Friars uniform, the long, lanky guard from Georgia elevated his game to a new level, becoming one of the nation's elite scorers and catching the eyes of NBA scouts, one of which was New Jersey Nets General Manager Billy King.
Coming into the shortened, post-lockout season, the Nets were in desperate need of scoring. To fill this void, they acquired Brooks in a trade from the Boston Celtics on the night of the draft; so far, the Nets have gotten exactly what they were looking for.
"He was just what we wanted," Nets Head Coach Avery Johnson says of him. "Being able to make plays off the dribble—we didn't have that last year."
After coming off the bench and proving his knack for scoring, "The Rookie," as his teammates and coaches call him, has made it into the starting lineup and proven that the position fits him well. On a team plagued by injuries and inconsistent play, he has been one of the lone bright spots, establishing himself as the team's most consistent scorer. In fact, Brooks is second in that category among all rookies, averaging just over 15 points per game, and is referred to as the "steal of the draft."
"He's a special young player and has a chance to be a really good pro," Nets star point guard Deron Williams says of Brooks.
Brooks has proved to his coach, his teammates, and his fans that he can put up impressive numbers, just as he did in the Big East. He has been very effective with his fade-away jump-shot as well as driving the lane and getting to the line, which has helped him maintain the confidence he gained last year at PC.
"He just has a lot of confidence which is, I think, his best attribute," Williams says. "He's borderline cocky which is a good thing in a basketball player. He feels like he can score on anybody."
On several occasions this season, Brooks has led the Nets in scoring; his best performances include a pair of 21-point performances against the Atlanta Hawks and the Indiana Pacers and a stellar 22-point game against the Golden State Warriors. He has scored in double-digits in 14 of 16 games this season and is shooting 47 percent from the field on a team that lacks offensive firepower. Brooks creates much of his own offense off the dribble while committing few turnovers.
"He's fearless," says Johnson. "We just want him to play his game, and pretty much what he's doing is the reason why we drafted him. We like the way he can pass, dribble, and shoot. And when you've got a guard who can do all three of those things, that's pretty good."
Pretty good is an understatement. In an NBA career that is not even a month old, Brooks' per-minute scoring and overall efficiency rank among the league's best players at his position. He is one of the front-runners for Rookie of the Year honors, and in only his first year in the league, he is turning heads. Brooks has been eager to prove his ability since starting at PC.
"I'm just out there trying to get some respect," he said. "I feel like I should have been drafted higher, so I just try to go out there and play with a chip on my shoulder."
So far, Brooks is making many of the teams who passed him up in the draft regret their decision and has silenced many of his critics. If "The Rookie" continues to fine-tune his game and learn the NBA game, he may put his name on the list of the best players to ever come out of the Big East alongside greats like Ewing and Allen, something any player could only dream of doing. Only time will tell how good Brooks can be, but in his very short career, he is giving both Nets and Friars fans a lot to look forward to. Hopefully, the best is yet to come.